The B.C. labour minister says he will make a decision in the next 24 hours on what steps the provincial government will take regarding the ongoing forestry strike.
Harry Bains said his party (NDP) is the one that ended big money in politics, and he insists that has never been the issue. Bains says he was hopeful the mediators would resolve it, but now that that hasn’t happened, he says it’s time to move forward
“I am considering all my options, there are a number of options available under the labour code, because at the end of the day, what I’d like to see is this dispute resolved in a timely fashion,” Bains said.
The strike has dragged on for eight months and now even the two mediators have walked away. For thousands of Vancouver Island workers, there is no end in sight.
“The mediator I think has walked away because he’s frustrated with the process because Western Forest Products has not moved any of their positions essentially since mid-November,” said Brian Butler, president of United Steelworkers Union Local 1-1937.
Butler says the key outstanding issue for his members comes down to safety.
In a statement, Western Forest Products says it’s disappointed that despite proposals offering super wage and contract provisions, the parties have been unable to reach a settlement.
Many, including independent contractors, and even Port McNeill’s mayor, have been calling on the government to step in for months. Liberal opposition forestry critic John Rustad says communities depend on it and he questions the NDP’s motives for not getting involved.
“One can only speculate their largest donors and supports have been the United Steelworkers, so if the United Steelworkers have said no, government has been reluctant to do that,” Rustad said.
“It’s incumbent upon government to speak for those that aren’t at the table, and that’s where they need to step in,” he said.